Joe Cotellese

👋 Hi! I'm Joe – product guy, coach and founder.

Product Manager & UX Interview Exercise

When I interview Product Managers or UX designers I usually block off time for an interactive exercise to see how a candidate tackles product problems. This involves designing a feature for app or website. Not to design the “right” solution but to observe thinking. I don’t want “free work” from the candidate so it’s never about my company’s products. Rather, I’ll take an application that I’ve used recently that I find particularly irksome. Continue reading

Product Ownership is Taken, Not Given


Ownership is taken, not given. If you are starting out in product management, don’t wait for your boss to give you responsibility over a product line. Prove that you deserve it and then take ownership.

How do you prove you deserve it?

Understand the company’s strategic vision. Be able to articulate that strategic vision and how the current product fits (or doesn’t.)

Understand your product inside and out.

Understand your competitors inside and out and know why they make the choices that they make.

Understand your customers needs and pain points.

If you wait for the ownership fairy to tell you it’s time you’ll be disappointed.

Learn Product Management With These Great Books

You won’t find many, if any, colleges teaching software product management. I started my career in the early 90s and was lucky to have some great mentors. Today, it’s a lot easier to kickstart your career in product management through a number of really great books. In this list I’ve compiled my favorite product management books. Reading these is great starting point for you to begin learning about this really rewarding career. Continue reading

How to Build Better Products by Asking Yourself One Question

As Product Managers we’re constantly running around in 50 million different directions. It’s easy to lose focus under the barrage of feature requests coming at your from sales, marketing, customer support, customer interviews and internal stakeholders. You end up spending too much time looking at your product as “that thing that you’re selling” when you should be really asking yourself “What am I really selling?” There is a classic analogy used in sales to sell the sizzle, not the steak. Continue reading

Want to build a better product? Stop obsessing about it (here’s what to focus on instead)

This post was updated from an earlier piece Assume for a moment that you just returned from a cross-country trip. You’re sitting at home looking at your credit card statement with all of the trip expenses. Which companies are most likely to show up on your bill? If you flew, maybe it’s USAir or JetBlue. If you drove, you’re likely to see Exxon, Lukoil or some other gas stations. Continue reading

What John Mulaney can teach us about bad UX design

Last night we went to see John Mulaney at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. We arrived at 6:45 to find two lines wrapped around the block. I expected a line, COVID screening takes time. What I didn’t expect to find was a second line inside the theater where people were taking our phones and watches and putting them into security bags. I was really looking forward to this evening. It was the first time I’ve seen a popular comedian in a venue like this. Continue reading

Product Management is not Project Management


These two terms are often used interchangeably and yet, other than having the word “management” and sort of sounding the same, they are vastly different things.

In many organizations senior management will point to a project manager and say “He’s our product manager.”

Continue reading
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